Thursday, June 5, 2008

Have we made any progress in marketing & sales alignment?

Over the past five years that I've been speaking with CMOs as part of my work here at IDC, sales alignment continues as one of the top priorities on every CMO’s to-do list. The increasing maturity of the technology sector accompanied by significant consolidation will only increase the importance of marketing and sales working in unison as part of the customer creation process. In a recent study, we asked marketing and sales folks to rate marketing’s effectiveness at optimizing sales’ worldwide efficiency and effectiveness (1 = not effective, 100 = very effective). Marketing executives rated marketing’s contribution to sales higher than the ratings provided by sales executives: 62 versus 57, respectively. The key message here is not that marketing gave itself a higher grade but that, more importantly, both scores remain low relative to the importance of this alignment to the success of the organization; and with an average of 15% of revenue, or more, being invested in sales and marketing, this alignment remains a process in disrepair.

What are sales and marketing leaders intending to do about this problem?

1. Better alignment of sales and marketing IT infrastructure.
2. Better alignment and integration of (what should be) joint processes (e.g., planning, budgeting, forecasting, market segmentation, go-to-market strategy, lead management)
3. Better alignment/utilization of performance measurement or metrics

Here are some actions sales and marketing executives should take to accomplish these objectives:

1. Integrate marketing and sales operations. This can be a "soft" merge, which would involve alignment of the goals and responsibilities for the marketing operations personnel and the sales operations personnel who report separately and respectively up through the marketing and sales structures. It can also be a "hard" merge, which would have the sales and marketing operations functions incorporated into a single organizational position.
2. Leverage and dedicate field marketing to develop and deploy marketing strategies/assets in collaboration with sales. Dedicated field readiness managers (sales enablement managers) can ensure that globally based enablement "teams" understand sales’ knowledge gaps, while soliciting their strategic input around the overall sales strategy. Field marketing needs to act as the "center of gravity" for development and execution of the local marketing and sales strategy in collaboration with sales.
3. Align sales and marketing with the needs of the customer in mind. In the words of one of our clients. . . "[We have] marketing and sales define and map customer needs, customer acquisition and retention processes along with definitions of key roles, hand-offs, inputs/outputs, and organizational structure required to support such processes."